Blue Rocks stun Potomac Nationals 5-3 in Sunday matinee
Despite a dominant start from RHP Andrew Lee (ND), the Potomac Nationals (17-25) fell victim to a ninth inning rally from the Northern Division leading Wilmington Blue Rocks (25-18) in a 5-3 loss on Sunday afternoon. Potomac took an early 2-0 lead, Wilmington tied it in the seventh, the P-Nats took the lead with a run in the eighth inning, while the Blue Rocks plated three in the final frame.
RF Blake Perkins led off the game for the Blue Rocks with a bunt single, but Lee then induced a double play and didn’t allow another hit until MJ Melendez doubled with two outs in the fourth inning. Lee allowed just two hits over five-shutout frames in the victory.
Opposite Lee, LHP Daniel Tillo (ND) worked around a walk, an error, and a single over the first three frames, as he sent the game to the middle third of the series finale scoreless.
Potomac cracked the run column first with a pair of runs in the fourth inning off of Tillo. RF Nick Banks extended his hit streak to 10 games with a leadoff single. A wild pitch from Tillo put Banks at second base, while 2B Cole Freeman advanced Banks to third base with a successful sacrifice bunt. DH KJ Harrison gave Potomac a 1-0 lead with a sharp ground ball to 3B Colby Schultz, who couldn’t handle it. Harrison was credited with an RBI single, while Schultz was also charged with an error that put Harrison at second base. The error proved costly, as LF Telmito Agustin plated Harrison and made it 2-0 with a soft RBI single to shallow left field.
After five-scoreless innings from Lee, RHP Jhon Romero worked a perfect sixth inning but ran into extra base hit problems in the seventh frame. C MJ Melendez pulled the Blue Rocks within a run with a 450-foot solo home run to RF, while DH Sebastian Rivero followed with a double. The Blue Rocks tied the game on a two-out single from 2B Ricky Aracena, as the teams went into the stretch tied 2-2.
Tillo spun six innings, while LHP Josh Mitchell (W, 1-0) worked around a pair of two-out Potomac singles in the seventh inning but gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth frame. Freeman doubled with one out and scored on a two-out, two-strike RBI single from Agustin.
The lead for Potomac didn’t last, as Wilmington plated three in the ninth inning. Schultz’s one-out home run off of RHP Frankie Bartow (L, 0-2) gave the Blue Rocks the lead, while a two-out walk sparked a longer rally. CF Rudy Martin drew the two-out walk and immediately stole second base, his fourth stolen base of the game. Perkins followed with a two-out RBI single, while SS Cristian Perez did the same, as Wilmington led 5-3 after 8.5 innings.
RHP Tyler Zuber (SV, 6) issued a leadoff walk to CF Gage Canning in the home half of the ninth inning but retired the next three Potomac hitters in order, as Wilmington secured a series victory with the 5-3 win.
Now finished with an eight-game, seven-day homestand, the P-Nats will hit the road for a quick trip to Kinston, NC, where they will begin a four-game series vs. the Down East Wood Ducks. In the series opener, RHP Malvin Pena (2-2, 7.80) is scheduled to start for Potomac. On Wednesday night, the Wood Ducks tagged Pena for five runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings in a no-decision. For the Wood Ducks, LHP Jake Latz (3-1, 2.86) is set to make his second straight start against the P-Nats. On Tuesday night, Latz spun five innings of one unearned run baseball in a victory.
First pitch at Grainger Stadium on Monday night is set for 7:00pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:45pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.